Guidelines for documenting blindness/visual impairments

A qualified evaluator

A licensed ophthalmologist would be considered qualified to provide a medical diagnosis and make recommendations for appropriate accommodations. Documentation must meet the following criteria:

  • Include evaluator’s name, title and professional credentials
  • Be typed, dated and signed on the professional’s letterhead.
  • Evaluator may not be a family member

Documentation

Must be current: Reasonable accommodations are based on the current impact of a disability, so the documentation must describe an individual’s current level of functioning and need for accommodations. If the condition that results in loss of vision is progressive, SDS will request documentation that is within the last two years. Documentation for non-progressive visual impairments should be no older than five years. Each request will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Must be comprehensive: Documentation must be thorough and provide a full picture of the individual, not simply a diagnosis. A diagnosis by itself is not a basis for accommodation. Documentation must include:

  • A clear statement of a visual disability with supporting data and should not include wording such as “seems to indicate” or “suggests.”
  • A summary of present symptoms which meet the criteria for diagnosis of a visual disability.
  • Medical information relating to the student’s needs and the status of the student’s vision (i.e. static, improving or degrading) and the expected progression of the condition over time.
  • Its impact on the demands of the academic program and the functional limitations of the visual impairment in an academic environment.
  • Summary of quantitative and qualitative (visual acuity exam) information about the student’s abilities.
  • Suggestions of reasonable accommodations supported by the diagnosis.

May include supporting information: In addition to the report of the qualified evaluator, it is also helpful to have records of the following:

  • Previous accommodations
  • Reports of tests of visual acuity
  • High school 504 plans or IEPs
  • Previous medical evaluations and other school reports to better understand and accommodate the student with a chronic visual disability.